The legal process for the return of property seized by police is set forth in Minn. Stat. §626.04(a). The statute requires that the party seeking the return of property make a demand in writing of the agency holding the property. If the property is not returned within 48 hours of the written demand, the statute requires that the party file a “petition for the return of the property.” The petition is to be filed on a form provided for such purpose by the district court administrator. The statute requires that the district court send the petition to the agency holding the property “ with at least ten days notice of a hearing date.” (emphasis added) The statute contemplates an informal hearing, and explicitly allows the law enforcement agency to provide the court with an ex parte summary of the progress of the investigation and, impliedly, the reasons retention of the property is necessary. The statute states that the court “shall not order the return” if it finds any of four specified conditions exist, including that “the property is being held in good faith as potential evidence in any matter, charged or uncharged.” Minn. Stat. §626(a).
However, the Minnesota legislator has unfairly deterred the filing of such claims as the statute states that unsuccessful petitioners pay the reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees associated with the law enforcement agency’s defense of such a petition. Minn. Stat. §626.04(b). Accordingly some individuals who cannot afford the risk of such a request will be limited from filing such.
Fortunately, federal law also provides a means for recovery. If an individual has had property seized by a state agency in violation of their constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure, said individual may file a claim in federal court under 47 U.S.C. 1983. If you have had property unfairly seized by a government agency contact us today for a free consultation.